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Smolensk Attractions
July 3, 2015 16:57



Lopatinsky garden can be considered the main historical garden of Smolensk, not only because it is located in the city centre near the south-western segment of the fortification. This well-kept park with a picturesque landscape where traditional carousels coexist with historical monuments appeared on the place that soaked in blood: here Sigismund III managed to break through the defense of Smolyans in1809, and Napoleon’s marshals besieged the Royal bastion in 1812.

Where war reigned for centuries, flowers bloom and a fountain splashes now, and it seems symbolic. The garden has occupied the territory of the Royal bastion. The construction of the ancient fortress can still be seen, if you study the plan of the park. In the XVII century the Poles were able to blow up the wall after a long siege of Smolensk, and after the capture of the city they built a new powerful fortification in the breach - the Royal Castle (or Royal bastion, as it is often called, although it is inaccurate - there were five bastions here).

The fortress had a shape of a star, its earth ramparts tiled with brick were connected with the surviving fragments of the Smolensk wall. In XVIII century the underground casemates were used as a prison for political prisoners. According to the legend, the unfortunate Emperor Ioann Antonovich was imprisoned there, and the maligned Vasily Kotchubey sat there even earlier. After the prisons in the casemates were closed the place housed the military office.

The ancient earthen fortress proved its combat effectiveness also during World War II - the advancing troops of the Marshals Ney and Davoust stuck here for a day. The Russian General Anton Antonovich Skalon died in that battle, he was buried at the Royal bastion. The obelisk at the Skalon’s grave which we can see today was erected in 1912, and the first monument to the defenders of Smolensk appeared already in 1841.

The ravine and the ramparts were deserted after all historical storms, until the Governor Alexander Grigoryevich Lopatin, a well-known philanthropist and honorary citizen of Smolensk, ordered to develop this place in 1874. The ditch and the ravine were cleared, the remains of the buildings near the fortress were dismantled, flower beds were arranged, pavilions and statues were constructed, a summer theatre and a restaurant were opened. The new city garden was at once called Lopatinsky garden.


Today the garden is once again landscaped and well-attended: it was put in order to the 1150th anniversary of Smolensk by the city volunteers.

The pond, which was recently littered and weedy, is now cleared and equipped with aerators, fish and swans live in it, water lilies bloom here in summer.

New benches, flower beds, fountains, cinema pavilions were added, free wi-fi is available in the park. A garden of boulders containing minerals found in Smolensk oblast was opened. Previously, music played throughout Lopatinsky garden, but not long ago a zone of a relaxing rest was allocated for those who prefer silence.

The walled-up entrances to casemates are designed as pavilions - you can sit on a bench in the arch under a stone lion, imagining how prisoners felt underground. In Soviet times these cool grottoes hosted kiosks with fruit waters and ice cream. Then they were removed, and it was planned to turn the casemates into a museum of tortures, but the city residents, fortunately, did not support the banal idea. Those hills with lions turn into slides for skiing in winter, in summer they are a place for tables of outdoor cafes.

The garden administration is gradually changing the standard garden pavilions of cafes for new constructions of stone and wood - they fit into the overall style of the ancient fortified buildings much better. Even trash cans are made in the same style (they stand not only in Lopatinsky garden – it is a branded street design of Smolensk): they are made in the shape of guns of XIX century decorated with bronze lions’ heads. This partially helps to keep the city clean: it is interesting to throw garbage to the mouth of an ancient gun, albeit reduced, but very similar to a real one, than just to throw things to the ground.

The main entrance to the garden is decorated with columns, a stylized name “Lopatinskiy garden” shining above them. There are two more entrances: through a gate in the defensive wall and near the “Molodost” hall.  Each of the three entrances to the garden has a detailed scheme containing information on location of monuments, parks, cafes, a boat station and other interesting objects. In addition, a visitor’s centre is open close to the “Observation Wheel”, the workers of the centre can help the guests plan their routes, give them a map of Smolensk, tell the addresses of hotels.

Tower-room For Tourists

On the eve of Smolensk 1150-th anniversary the city becomes more attractive for tourists. In the historical heart of Smolensk, in Lopatinsky garden that is always visited by any tourist coming to Smolensk, a new Tourist information center has been opened. 

Guests will find traditionally Russian "Smolensk tower-room" easily as it is located near the city wall and the ferries wheel. Tourist center provides the information about the attractions of Smolensk, gives away booklets, calendars, badges, tells on upcoming events and sells souvenirs. 

In addition, "Smolensk tower-room" has prepared a very useful for a traveler tourist map-scheme "Mobile guide to the city of Smolensk", with the help of which anyone can make a self-guided tour in the ancient city. On the first side of this map there are photographs of 111 historical objects that will be interesting to the curious visitors. On the back of the map, the same objects are shown as circles with three-digit codes.

When tourists approach any monument shown on the map, they need to dial short number 63-1150 adding the corresponding three-digit code. Then, they will hear a recording telling about the most important facts of this attraction for two or five minutes.

Another innovation - a pocket "tourist passport" that includes all vital information about available hotels in Smolensk, current museums and galleries exhibitions, theaters, cinemas, cafes and restaurants, shops and markets. There is a calendar of monthly events, important phone numbers, and brief information about the places worth visiting there.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Smolensk Must See Places    

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